A quality assurance program isn't a way of adding another layer of non-productive paper shufflers to the construction process. It's a system of procedures for making sure that what is constructed does what it's supposed to do without costly rework. Quality control is a part of the construction function in this system of procedures and includes field inspection, testing, analysis of test results and reporting the findings.

Responsibility for quality assurance begins with the designer who sets the level of quality needed and defines it in drawings and specifications. A faulty or impractical design can't be overcome in the field by the contractor or by a quality control program. In the design and specification stage, then, quality assurance consists of correcting errors and omissions and making sure that the structure can be built as shown on the drawings. Without either field-experienced designers or feedback to the design team from construction personnel, poorly conceived contract documents can be the cause of inefficiencies, low productivity and cost overruns.

A good quality control inspector should be more concerned with helping to prevent errors than with letting them happen so that he can identify them. It's when quality assurance programs detect correctable errors early in the game that maximum benefits are realized. To do this, inspection and testing procedures must be carefully planned in advance.